We received a map at the Greater Albuquerque Bicycling Advisory Committee meeting Monday afternoon that shows bicycling activity across Greater Albuquerque. The data is from Strava and uses Global Positioning Systems in smartphones or bicycle computers to track activities of people who have downloaded the application. It’s part of the information era that is changing the way we perceive, study and understand our lives in relation to the places we live in.
Above is a screen shot of Strava’s heat map (free online) for Albuquerque and Santa Fe. You can zoom in and see anywhere activity was recorded in great detail down to the street and trail level. You can also zoom out and look at activity across the U.S.A. and around the world. Making bicycling visible like this is a bicycling geographer’s dream. Check out the squiggly line in the image below flowing west-east across Iowa. Any guesses as to what that is?
It’s a signature from the ride across Iowa, also known as RAGBRAI. Over 10,000 people participate. A rolling city on two wheels. This data coincides with the 2014 RAGBRAI route map.
Our Metropolitan Planning Organization has purchased spatial data through the Strava Metro program to analyze and better understand active transportation in our region. This information on where and how people are using travel modes besides motorized vehicles is a key component in the planning toolkit. It will be a valuable data set to use along with traditional traffic surveys being newly adapted to capture information on walking and biking activities.
The National Bike Challenge uses Strava and similar Apps to hold a competition to see who can ride the most. In 2015 New Mexico came out # 23 in the Nation (see image above) during the challenge period (May-Sept.) It is good to use technology to incite some healthy competition.
For November New Mexico is currently 14th in the Nation (see above). Finding beneficial ways for applying Strava and similar active transportation trackers like Human has just begun. We have yet another way to make bicycling more visible, raise awareness and make it even more fun. It is heartening to be harnessing technology for healthy and sustainable development.